The present perfect tense is a rather important tense in English, but it gives speakers of some languages a difficult time. That is because it uses concepts or ideas that do not exist in those languages. In fact, the structure of the present perfect tense is very simple. The problems come with the use of the tense.
Structure of Present Perfect
Subject + have/has + PP.
|I/you/they/we have||He/she/it has|
|I have learnt English for 10 years.
You have done the work very well.
They have got married since 2010.
We have finished our project successfully.
|He has been in Paris.
She has paid her school fee.
It has rained for 2 hours.
Subject + have/has not + PP
|I/you/they/we have not (or haven’t)||He/she/it has not (or hasn’t)|
|I have not learnt English for 10 years.
You have not done the work very well.
They have not got married since 2010.
We have not finished our project successfully.
|He has not been in Paris.
She has not paid her school fee.
It has not rained for 2 hours.
Have/has + Subject + PP?
|Have I/you/they/we?||Has he/she/it?|
|Have I learnt English for 10 years?
Have you done the work very well?
Have they got married since 2010?
Have we finished our project successfully?
|Has he been in Paris?
Has she paid her school fee?
Has it rained for 2 hours?
Contractions with the present perfect tense
When we use the present perfect tense in speaking, we usually contract the subject and auxiliary verb. We also sometimes do this when we write.
I have = I’ve
You have = You’ve
They have = They’ve
We have = We’ve
He has = He’s
She has = She’s
It has = It’s
Here are some examples:
I’ve finished my work.
John’s seen ET.
They’ve gone home.
How do we use the Present Perfect Tense?
This tense is called the present perfect tense. There is always a connection with the past and with the present. There are basically three uses for the present perfect tense:
- continuing situation
1. Present perfect tense for experience
We often use the present perfect tense to talk about experience from the past. We are not interested in when you did something. We only want to know if you did it:
- I have seen Terminator III movies.
- He has lived in Bangkok.
- Have you been there?
- We have never eaten caviar.
The action of the event is in my head, now, I have a memory of the event; I know something about the event; I have experience of it.
2. Present perfect tense for change
We also use the present perfect tense to talk about a change or new information:
- I have bought a new car. (Last week I didn’t have a car. Now I have a new car.)
- John has broken his leg. (Yesterday, John has a good leg. Now he has a bad leg.)
- Has the price gone up? (Was the price low yesterday? Is the price higher today?)
- The police have arrested the killer. (Yesterday, the killer was free. Now he is in prison.)
3. Present perfect tense for continuing situation
We often use the present perfect tense to talk about a continuing situation. This is a state that started in the past and continues in the present (and will probably continue into the future). This is a state (not an action). We usually use for or since with this structure.
- I have worked here since June.
- He has been ill for 2 days.
- How long have you known Tara?
For & Since with Present Perfect Tense
We often use for and since with the present perfect tense.
- We use for to talk about a period of time—5 minutes, 2 weeks, 6 years.
- We use since to talk about a point in past time—9 o’clock, 1st January, Monday.
Here are some examples:
- I have been here for 20 minutes.
- I have been here since 9 o’clock.
- John hasn’t called for 6 months.
- John hasn’t called since February.
- He has worked in New York for a long time.
- He has worked in New York since he left school.
For can be used with all tenses. Since is usually used with perfect tenses only.